Menswear retailer Moss Bros says it remains on track to meet market expectations for the year after recovering from the stock related challenges it faced a year ago. 

In its AGM trading update, Moss Bros said for the 15 weeks to 11 May, total sales were up 1.5% on last year, while like-for-like sales were 0.2% lower. However, like–for-like retail sales including e-commerce were up 2.2%, reflecting a strong e-commerce performance alongside positive momentum in high street stores.

It added its Outlet store business saw footfall impacted by warmer weather across the Easter period.

E-commerce sales, meanwhile, which now account for 15.5% of total sales, continued to increase, up 18.7% on last year. 

Like-for-like hire sales on a ‘cash taken’ basis were down 15.6% on last year. Moss Bros said some of this business has switched to retail and specifically the Tailor Me offer, which is showing 32% growth in order value.

CEO Brian Brick said the firm is making progress on last year, having recovered from the stock issues and improved its supply chain, with retail and e-commerce sales showing further improvement against this backdrop. Although Hire continues to disappoint, Brick said this reflects a switch from Hire to retail with the new Tailor Me range.

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By GlobalData

“We are building momentum in new channels to market and we are seeing a growth in new customers as a result. Tailor Me continues to gather momentum and is showing 32% growth in order value versus last year,” he added.

“We are focused on the peak phase of our trading year, encompassing; wedding season, prom and Ascot. The wider trading environment remains both highly competitive and price sensitive, but we are well placed with our strong core offer and levels of stock availability. The business remains on track to meet market expectations for the year.”

Moss Bros will announce its interim results on 24 September.

Sofie Willmott, senior retail analyst at GlobalData, notes Moss Bros has started 2019/20 on a more positive note, with sales growth showing a clear improvement on FY2018/19 when total sales declined 2.1%.

While total like-for-like sales fell 0.2%, Willmott expects Moss Bros to continue to deliver better results in the second quarter, once again due to weak comparatives when sales were impacted by the World Cup and the long hot summer, but she notes if Moss Bros is to achieve long term success, it must focus on brand image and key growth areas such as third-party marketplaces to further boost performance.

“As Moss Bros approaches its peak trading season with weddings, races and proms imminent, the suit specialist should focus on refining its brand image to appeal to young shoppers that will be attending these events. Incoming Chairman, Colin Porter, previously CEO at Joules, will be able to use his expertise to help refine Moss Bros’ identity and drive appeal among 16-34s who may have little awareness of the brand,” she adds.